Netflix’s Kaleidoscope Is Binge-Worthy—But Only If You Watch It This Way
Let’s be honest—binge-watching TV is starting to feel like a chore. We’ve rewatched every episode of our favorite pre-streaming TV shows like Breaking Bad, a three-and-a-half-hour reunion of Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, and Martin Scorsese in The Irishman, and got entirely too attached to an animal cosplay speed dating reality show. There’s too much TV and not enough time to watch it all, so every binge has to do more than keep us in a zombie-like trance, and Netflix knows that.
For eight enthralling episodes, creator Eric Garcia produces a delicately interwoven collection of characters, plots, and (surprisingly) bees to tell an action-packed heist story. Giancarlo Esposito plays Leo Pap, an ex-thief who rounds up a motley crew of criminals to rob an impenetrable vault and steal billions of dollars worth of bonds. The real appeal is that Netflix promotes it as a choose-your-own-adventure binge, where watching it in different orders will yield different viewing experiences with slightly different end results.
While Netflix doesn’t offer any way to binge your custom order of episodes without stopping and manually selecting the next episode, the show offers a unique opportunity for you to get a bit more interactive with your binge. The original episode order Netflix offers bounces around the heist timeline, prioritizing narrative misdirection and backstory exposition over all else. It’s a fun watch but one prone to burying key heist details in favor of character development.
That’s why we watched Kaleidoscope in multiple combinations to give you the best way to view it. If you’d rather feel accomplished than satisfied after watching a heist show, then there isn’t a better way to watch one of Netflix’s most daring attempts at the binge-watch than this “Heist Puzzle” order.
What’s the Best Way to Watch Kaleidoscope?
The main issue with the jumbled episode order Netflix rolls out is the heist; its outcomes don’t appear until you’ve already watched more than four hours of backstory and preparation. That only works for a film confined to a singular viewing experience where the backstory, character development, and conclusive heist payoff must be laid out in one sitting.
For example, if Ocean’s Eleven started with Rusty (Brad Pitt) smugly instructing a bewildered Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) to help the thieves inadvertently rob his impenetrable bank vault and then working backward, it’d still be a thrilling heist movie. But, then, the character development in the group assembly may feel like less interesting detours before the heist that’s been previewed in the beginning, especially with a tight 110-minute runtime.
That’s where Netflix’s binge model, Kaleidoscope‘s four-hour-plus runtime, and the way Eric Garcia fleshed out each episode offer the interactive drama an opportunity to make the heist less of a destination and more of a puzzle. Instead of introducing most of the major players to start and then bouncing around the timeline to present motivations and obfuscate the twists, Kaleidoscope is best experienced by diving right into the direct aftermath of the heist and checking out clues in the backstory and heist planning before being treated to one of the most satisfyingly complex robberies of 2023. That’s why this “Heist Puzzle” order is the best way to watch Kaleidoscope:
By starting with the “Red” episode, you get the vague puzzle pieces of the heist—deflated boat escape, bees in the vault, missing bond—while raising questions that’ll fester in your mind as you go through the rest of the series. What was in the vault that shocked the FBI and Roger Salas (Rufus Sewell)? Why does Roger have a different identity? Who’s the rat in the group? By the end of the first episode, you’ll glue yourself to your bed until you crack this mystery and look at every character introduction as another puzzle piece falling in your lap.
From there, certain moments will feel like exhilarating clue discoveries rather than simply character introductions. The first time Hannah Kim (Tati Gabrielle) and Leo’s conspiratorial connection is revealed at the pier in “Yellow,” and she tells Roger he’ll get everything he deserves after receiving the bonds gains a double meaning. Understanding this connection and the tragic origin story of Leo and Roger’s relationship as thieves in “Violet” will add an extra emotional layer to the rest of the viewing experience.
By the time you conclude with “White,” you’ll be putting all the puzzle pieces in place as the heist unfolds, making it less of a revelation and more of a vindication of your stellar detective work.
Keith Nelson is a writer by fate and journalist by passion, who has connected dots to form the bigger picture for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer, and Mic, to name a few.
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